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Inferno (1980)
Movie Review by Professor Corpse Rot

Inferno (1980) Directed by Dario Argento, a well-known horror specialist who hails from Italy, with over 30 years of experience in the business. Argento has a considerable cult following for titles like Profondo rosso, Phenomena, Due occhi diabolici, Il fantasma dell'opera and Tenebrae. I don't think it's a secret to discuss how different European films are in comparison to the American flavor. While it would be a lie to deny the obvious influence several famous American directors have on European work, certain brilliant individuals, like Argento, take a different approach when it comes to psychological stimulation. In my opinion, Dario's strong suit is definitely his cinematography. It's apparent that his genius couldn't truly be successful without a competent production team, but it takes a certain insight to think "outside of the box" in terms of aesthetics; his style has been recognized and praised internationally.

To get down to it, the premise of Inferno initially follows a young poetess, Rose Elliot, who comes into contact with a book sold to her by a local antique dealer. The book documents the existence of an ancient triumvirate of witches known as "The Three Mothers": Mater Suspiriorum, Mater Tenebrarum, and Mater Lachrymarum. This movie concerns Mater Tenebrarum, or the Mother of Darkness and Shadows. She soon discovers the location of where Mater Tenebrarum is kept. Meanwhile her brother Mark, a music student who resides in Rome, receives her letter about the new-found discovery and decides to investigate in New York City.

Argento would plan on releasing a trilogy of movies concerning this evil trio, starting with 1978's Suspiria - moving along to 1980's Inferno, and finally ending his series with 2007's La terza madre (also known as The Mother of Tears). To discuss the elements present in Inferno, however, I can say this: the cinematography was outstanding. He effectively utilized a blue and red lighting technique, heavily laden with black shadows to set an emotional atmosphere. I never fully grasped the depth of his artistry until I watched a visually pleasing film such as this one.

It's unfortunate that the plot is broken up and incoherent - I often felt confused. They exercised the idea of focusing on a new main character every 10 minutes or so...leaving you to wonder, "Oh okay, so they'll follow her for a little bit." Until she dies. Then you are left saying to yourself, "Huh? Oh. Oh okay, him then." Then he dies. There is absolutely no attachment to any of the characters. They often leave certain sequences unexplained and choose not to revisit them. It's for this reason that I rated this title lowly - a decision I'm upset about because of how beautifully shot it was. If you're a fan of Argento this one is worth watching, just don't expect much - stick with some of his other work that embodies his level of mastery.

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